ShoCons: Effective Display of Shortcuts in Icon Toolbars

Vidya Setlur, Benjamin Watson

Abstract

Users often do not use keyboard shortcuts in applications as recalling and choosing the correct shortcut is a higher-order cognitive task. Mouse driven menus, toolbars, and icons are easier for a user to learn because they present hints and make visible what operations are possible, drawing on the power of recognition rather than recall. How can we better support the usage of shortcuts with such menus? Two existing methods are text in the icons, and popups with mouse hover. While the first is space inefficient; the second limits exposure and imposes an interaction cost. We propose a third method, ShoCons, that is spatially more efficient and neither limits user exposure nor imposes an interaction cost. To achieve this, ShoCons use a succinct iconic display of meta keys, limiting textual display to one character. We examine these alternatives in a controlled study, and find that when used with a high-level task, ShoCons enable faster task performance and an immediate increase in the accuracy of shortcut use.

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